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Courtney Love (no, not that Courtney Love) is a 6'2", 222-pound linebacker from Youngstown (OH) Cardinal Mooney who currently holds offers from Indiana, Michigan State, and Nebraska to go along with interest from several big-name schools including Michigan, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. As a junior, he helped lead Cardinal Mooney to a state title while putting up some pretty impressive numbers. I caught up with Courtney this evening to discuss his recruitment, his junior year, and his interest in Michigan.
ACE: How is your recruitment going so far, and which schools are showing the most interest in you?
COURTNEY: Right now everything is going great. I've got Nebraska, they're showing a lot of interest, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan State, and Michigan—those are the top ones so far.
ACE: Do you have any early favorites out of the teams that have been recruiting you?
COURTNEY: Not really. I'm just keeping an open mind with all of them.
ACE: Who's your recruiting contact from Michigan?
COURTNEY: Coach Montgomery.
ACE: Looking at your junior year, obviously you guys won the state championship. What was that like for you, and how do you feel you performed in your junior year?
COURTNEY: Bringing home the state title was great, because ever since we were little we all wanted to do that ourselves. The team that I played with this year, the juniors and seniors and sophomores, we were all basically on the same team as seventh- and eighth-graders, and we've been playing together since seventh grade through now. It's been great with them, the chemistry is great. This year I think I did okay. This was my first year really starting, because I didn't get a chance to start when I was a sophomore until around the playoffs.
ACE: Do you know your stats off the top of your head?
COURTNEY: I'm not too sure but I know I had 160-plus tackles, seven forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
ACE: If you had to scout yourself, what would you say are your biggest strengths as a player, and where are you looking to improve?
COURTNEY: My biggest strengths would be reading the play and reacting to it, getting downhill. The biggest thing I've got to work on is my pass coverage [and also] blitzing, getting the linemen off me.
ACE: Looking ahead to the offseason and the summer, do you have any plans in terms of going to camps or junior days and taking visits to certain schools? Do you have any visits in mind, or are you waiting to set those up?
COURTNEY: I have a few visits in mind, but I'm still really just waiting to set everything up. I'm dealing with taking the ACT right now, this is my first time taking that, so I'm going to get focused on that, and then after that's over with I'll get ready to see what I'm going to do in terms of taking visits and everything.
ACE: In terms of your recruitment in general, do you have an idea in terms of a timeline?
COURTNEY: It's kinda early, but most likely I want to get it done and chosen by the beginning of my [senior] season.
ACE: When you're looking at these schools right now, and I know it's pretty early, but when you're looking to commit to a program and a school, what are you looking for there?
COURTNEY: I'm looking for a great program as far as educationally as well as what's going to be best for my family to be able to come down and visit and come watch me wherever I go. Wherever best fits me, what can help me out as far as earning a scholarship, getting that education, and playing time, that's basically about it.
ACE: I know people would be curious to hear what your thoughts are about Michigan right now. What are your feelings about Michigan?
COURTNEY: I definitely like Michigan. It's a great program. I'm good friends with Fitzgerald Toussaint, I've been talking to my dad about how Michigan is, and one of my teachers on the staff at my school also talks to me a little bit about it and tells me he can give me some information whenever I need it. I'm really keeping an open mind to every program so far, because right now there's really the elite programs [recruiting me], and Michigan is right with them. They looked great this year, and the coaches they had this year did really amazing. They're starting to make a great program out of Michigan and [bringing it back to] what it has been before.
We all know it matters. Otherwise there wouldn’t be four major recruiting sites, countless team-specific recruiting blogs and grown men tweeting and facebooking 17 year old high school males, and breathlessly refreshing message boards for the next 14 days.
The question I want to answer is how much does it matter, and where do the numbers play out the most? How much of team success can be predicted based on recruiting profile of the present roster (not the JUCO-stuffed 38 member SEC class that the majority never shows)? Do recruiting services do a better job of predicting offense or defense? Which is more likely to win you conference and national championships, the 5 star running back or the 5 star linebacker?
I have created a complimentary recruiting database that links into my PBP database. For a source I picked Rivals because I wanted to keep it relatively straightforward and they have a full 10-year history online. I only looked at the players who were ranked at their position. Each year that is about 1,000 players and virtually every signee from a major program. Anyone not ranked for their position was omitted. I only have comprehensive rosters for all teams for the last three years, so for that time period I did my best to link the two DBs together. I am sure there are a few that I am missing but I think I got all the Dee Harts linked up with Demetrius Harts and all the other weird things that happen to a recruit's name between recruitment and the official roster.
Each recruit is given an initial value. The value is roughly
[Percentile within position] * [# of stars] ^ 2
So a 5 star #1 at his position recruit is worth about 25 points and a 50th percentile 3 star would be worth 4.5 pts. The initial value is then adjusted based on how long the player has been in the program.
The recruits are then matched up with the final rosters. Players are only counted if they are still on the roster. So any players that have transferred, left school or gone to the NFL are excluded from the totals. The only major gap is transfers. For ones I knew of right away like Cam Newton or Ryan Mallet, they only count at their final school. Most other transfers will only show up at the original school for their time there and then disappear from the grid. Players are then given a “bonus” multiplier based on their experience. Players' initial values are doubled from their first year to their second year and tripled for every year after that.
That’s a lot fewer words than hours put in but in a nutshell, that’s the background for what I will show you below. The magnitude of the points isn’t relevant, all you need to know is the more points the better.
Answer Your Question Already
When you start talking to yourself within an article on mgoblog, there is only one appropriate response, CHART
Lot’s of variation within the numbers but definitely a strong correlation between recruiting points and team PAN [ed: points above normal, the Mathlete's SOS- and situation-adjusted stat]. For all the charts I put up the data will be BCS schools from 2009-2011. Recruits prior to 2009 will be included, but only the actual seasons of play from 2009 on.
There have been some really good seasons from teams with <1,000 pts like Oklahoma St this past season (896). There have also been some mediocre season from teams with 3,000+ points like Texas in 2010 (3,082 pts). But all in all more recruits is better, but we already knew that. So let’s dig a little deeper and see if recruiting rankings mean more for offense or defense and if any position groups are better indicators than others.
Who To Trust, Offense or Defense
Moving to specifics can become a bit more of a challenge. To ease that, I counted every recruit in the position they play, not the position that they are recruited for. They keep the same point total they would at the original position, it just counts in a different bucket. Whether its a WR moving to DB or an ATH finding a home, the points are set based on the initial group ranking, but they are allocated based on the roster position. On to the offense.
The correlation is still there, but it is much weaker for the offense as opposed to the team as a whole. In fact, most of the best offensive seasons were accomplished with relatively average recruiting talent. The ultimate loaded team, 2009 USC, only managed a 3.3 on offense with 10% pts more than any other team I have measured. Teams like the latest incarnations of Michigan and Oregon were able to achieve double digit offensive PAN without elite offensive recruiting classes.
Defensive recruiting is much more correlated with defensive success than offensive. The slope is nearly double and the R-Squared is much greater as well. There are still exceptions like 2009 Florida St who was almost –10 PAN despite over 1,000 defensive recruiting points. There is still success on the lower range but overall there are fewer failures at the top and less success at the bottom of defensive recruiting rankings.
Based on this data, system, player development and finding diamonds in the rough are more prevalent on offense than defense. On defense there is some variation but for the most part you are who you recruit. Unless you hire Greg Robinson and even your Never Forget roster still has 853 points to “earn” a –7 on the season.
The Best Position To Be In
Since the defense as a whole proved to be the most predictive, let’s look there first.
Being a good defense is all about your weakest link and based on that philosophy, you shouldn’t be surprised to see all positions play out relatively equal. None of the position groups is significantly better or worse than another at predicting defensive success.
Offense is where it really gets muddled. O-Line, tight ends and receivers all are moderate correlations between recruiting and offensive success and running backs (as I’ve stated elsewhere) are the most overrated position in football. Quarterback is far and away the highest correlation to offensive success of any position. Even with that QB, is still below all of the defensive positions when it comes to future success on that side of the ball.
How recruiting matches up with success varies greatly by conference. Rather than throw up six more charts, I just put the R^2 values in a table:
Recruiting has virtually no correlation to success over the last three years in the Big East and the PAC 12 but for the other four conferences it's anywhere from a little (Big 12, land of Red River and everyone else) to a lot (the ACC and the SEC).
The Big Ten is in the middle; Ohio St has dominated at the top of both recruiting and success but Michigan’s underachievement and Wisconsin and Nebraska having strong seasons without top tier recruiting classes have thrown in enough variance to disrupt the correlation.
Your 5 Star Takeaway
Recruiting rankings have a huge correlation to future team success, especially on defense. Great teams can come from average talent, but more talent typically means more success. On defense it is virtually impossible to build an elite defense without elite recruits, and its equally true across all defensive positions. On offense dreams of 5 star skill position players are fun, but coaching, player development, system and luck play a much bigger role in future success than they do on defense. With top 20 and higher recruits at nearly every position on defense, Michigan is poised for a very strong future if they can keep the talent around.
Desmond Blockham has returned to Ann Arbor for spring classes, and unbeknownst to him, there is a surprise waiting for him at the dorms...
(Click the image to view full size)
What sort of advice will father Glenn offer his youngest son? How will Desmond be able to relate to Yeshpremi? Who's the hot girl in the poster over by Desmond's desk? Will Glenn be able to win over Misopogon with his response?
(CUE THE CHEESY CLIFFHANGER MUSIC)
All of these questions and more will be answered in the follow-up to this strip, available tomorrow ONLY at the strip's official home page...
As stated before, THE BLOCKHAMS™ will run every Tuesday here at MGoBlog, and every Thursday on its official home page. And as we saw last week, don't be surprised if they make a few unannounced appearances from time to time as well.
2013 athlete James Onwualu had a standout junior season at St. Paul (MN) Cretin-Derham Hall—the same school that produced former top-ranked recruit Seantrel Henderson—as both a receiver and running back, amassing 1,092 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011. The 6'2", 205-pound prospect already holds offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, and Stanford, and he's impressed scouts at recent camps, including the Army All-American Combine, where Rivals named him one of the standout wide receivers ($). Michigan has been in contact with Onwualu, and I had the chance to catch up with him briefly this evening. Here's the full transcript:
ACE: First of all, how is your recruitment going, and which teams have shown the most interest so far?
JAMES: It's been very exciting getting pulled into the process and it's really picking up quickly. The schools that have shown the most interest are Stanford, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Pitt.
ACE: Do you have any early favorites among those teams?
JAMES: Not really. Every school has a different twist to it and my relationships with those coaches are all growing so it could be any of them.
ACE: Do you have an idea of what position you'd like to play in college? I've seen wideout, running back, and safety all thrown out there.
JAMES: Depends on the school but I am willing to play any of them.
ACE: When would you like to narrow down your choices? Any idea when you'd want to commit to a school?
JAMES: [I will] most likely commit this spring. I have a feeling a school will stand out by then.
ACE: Who has been recruiting you from Michigan (which coach/coaches)? Any plans to take a visit to Ann Arbor?
JAMES: Coach Mattison and yes I would love to go visit and see what it is like.
ACE: What are you looking for in a prospective school/program?
JAMES: The biggest things for me are the opportunities that will arise for my years after college. Along with that, the academics and also the environment surrounding the football community.
No team movement this week as there was very little in the way of commitments across the board. That will obviously change in the couple weeks leading up to signing day, but for now the standings remain the same. Action since last rankings:
1-9-12: Indiana picks up Tevin Coleman.
1-12-12: Iowa picks up Eric Simmons. Indiana picks up Cameron Coffman.
1-14-12: Darrius Stroud decommits from Indiana.
1-15-12: Cody Quinn switches commitment from Illinois to Kentucky. Minnesota picks up Duke Anyanwu.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg||Avg Avg^|
*ESPN doesn't rate JuCos, so they are counted as unranked recruits for the sake of consistency (trust me, it makes sense when you look at the spreadsheet).
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (aka the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
On to the full data, after the jump.